Ricochet News

Emotional van Niekerk just 0.02s away from making history at IAAF 200m final

Emotional van Niekerk just 0.02s away from making history at IAAF 200m final

Wayde van Niekerk was a mere 0.02s away from breaking a 21-year double gold 400m/200m drought when he succumbed to a silver-place finish in the IAAF World Championship 200m final at the Olympic Oval in London on Thursday night.

Heading into the race emotionally withdrawn, van Niekerk scraped past the semi-finals, but was still a look-out competitor for the final, and that he was – as in with just a mere 70m stretch to go, the 25-year-old took the lead and looked driven for victory.

Suddenly as the stretch grew shorter, both sprinters beside him, Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev and Trinidad & Tobago’s Jereem Richards, ascended to even out the front-line, as van Niekerk lost it by inches, literally.

Guliyev finished with gold with a time of 20.09s, just ahead of van Niekerk’s 20.11s completion for silver. Also finishing with 20.11s, Richards claimed bronze by a whisker, losing out to van Niekerk by a single millisecond (a thousandth of a second).

With his silver, van Niekerk helped tally SA’s medal count to five, a new record for the country at any IAAF World Championship meeting.

Breaking down in tears in his post-race interview, an emotional van Niekerk proclaimed that this week has been a huge rollercoaster ride for him.

“It was a tough week for myself, I really feel like I’ve worked hard for tonight. Also, after the 400m victory, there were quite a lot of people who felt I didn’t deserve it and I’m glad I was able to come out today and put up a good fight,” van Niekerk told BBC Sport.

“I worked just as hard as every other competitor that I compete against, I show everyone else respect and I feel like I didn't get the respect that I deserved after the 400m.”

“I really believe this is just the beginning of so much that I can achieve,” he added.

Image: Wayde van Niekerk (right) poses with Ramil Guliyev (middle) and Jereem Richards (left).